Sea Level Rise Endangers New York

Rising temperatures cause glaciers to melt, which adds water to the world’s oceans.  Photo Credit: NASA

Rising temperatures cause glaciers to melt, which adds water to the world’s oceans. Photo Credit: NASA


If you’re still living in New York in 2050, you might need a canoe to get to school. And maybe a submarine to get home, especially if you live anywhere near the water.

Did you know that New York City has experienced at least a foot of sea level rise since 1990? And that scientists are expecting an additional 11 to 15 inches of sea level rise in New York by 2050?

The rise in sea levels is caused by human activities such as burning fossil fuels and cutting down tropical forests. These activities cause the temperature to rise because of trapped heat inside the atmosphere. Rising temperatures cause the ice and glaciers to melt, which add water in the world’s oceans. 

According to the article “What You Can Do About Climate Change,” published in the New York Times, “For decades, as the global warming created by human emissions caused land ice to melt and ocean water to expand, scientists warned that the accelerating rise of the sea would eventually imperil the United States’ coastline.”

The consequences of sea level rise could be devastating. According to National Geographic, “As seawater reaches farther inland, it can cause destructive erosion, wetland flooding, aquifer and agricultural soil contamination, and lost habitat for fish, birds, and plants. When large storms hit land, higher sea levels mean bigger, more powerful storm surges that can strip away everything in their path.”

Sea-level rise poses a significant risk specifically to New York’s people. It will affect New York’s resources and economy. 

In October 2012, New Yorkers experienced the horrifying Hurricane Sandy. It caused widespread flooding and power failure. New York lost an estimated $19 billion due to damages throughout the city. Furthermore, 44 people were killed during the hurricane.

“Midwood students should care about climate change because they should take care of their planet and take care of the place they live in,” said Ms. Krishna Alvarez, one of Midwood’s chemistry teachers. “It is for them and their future. If they are going to be here for a long time, they should become better citizens.”

New York is spending millions of dollars to make the city more sustainable to sea level rises. According to the article, “With Climate Change No Longer in the Future, Adaptation Speeds Up,” also from the New York Times, the city is designing a $203 million flip-up wall to go under Franklin D. Roosevelt Drive to make the city more sustainable. 

While the city is trying to protect the people, we could take small steps to prevent environmental disaster. We could use more bikes instead of cars that emit harmful gases. Or we could use paper or reusable bags while shopping instead of plastic bags. 

“It will impact students’ lives,” said Ms. Alvarez. “But they should understand they have the power to change it.”